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BRIGHT FUTURE: Tough choice leads to dance

BROOKHAVEN — Sydney Eidt’s journey to graduation from the Mississippi School of the Arts has taken several pirouettes since the eighth grade, but she’s only 215 days away from the curtain call.

Torn between a passion for dance and theater arts, Eidt wound up in the school’s dance program in 2011, which offers classes in ballet, modern, improvisation and composition dance for 11th and 12th graders.

But the decision to pursue dance wasn’t exactly her first choice.

Having taken some form of dance class since she was 3 years old, the decision to switch to theater when she was 13 wasn’t the easiest one to make but one that Eidt said she thoroughly enjoyed.

“I became so involved with the Natchez Little Theatre that it became like a second home to me,” Eidt said. “Layne (Taylor) and I became so close, and he really helped me believe in myself and what I could accomplish.”

As she became more involved with NLT, Eidt said she began thinking outside of the world of Natchez and Cathedral School, where she previously attended school, since eighth grade.

“I auditioned for MSA in 2011 in vocal music, dance and theater, but I had not taken a dance class in two and a half years,” Eidt said. “So when I was told I scored high on both dance and theater and had to choose between the two, I was kind of shocked.”

Eidt chose theater as her discipline and moved to Brookhaven to prepare for classes. MSA is a residential school located on the historic Whitworth College Campus.

But just four days before starting class, Eidt said she knew something was not right.

“I had this coming to Jesus (moment) I guess you could say, and he just said, ‘You need to be a dancer,’” Eidt said. “I went to the executive director of the school and asked if I could change my discipline from theater to dance.

“That day I became a dancer, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else since then.”

Since that day, Eidt dove into her dance and academic curriculum — taking a particular liking toward improvisation.

“I’ve been previously trained at the Natchez Ballet Academy, so I knew that ballet would be close to my heart, but being able to create something on your own through improv just allows you so much creativity and freedom,” Eidt said. “I love all styles of dance, but composition and improvisation really does change your outlook on dance.”

Throughout the week, Eidt racks up 20 hours of dance classes plus individual studio time that students must log outside of class to prepare for rehearsals for concerts.

And even outside of her classes, Eidt said just being on the campus is enough motivation to keep her focused on her dance discipline.

“It’s just such a warm and serious environment because you have a reason to be there,” Eidt said. “Your parents didn’t just enroll you — you auditioned, you applied and you are focused on your discipline.

“It really is the top students from around the state.”

As the days wind down until graduation, Eidt said the moment she walks across the stage will be a bittersweet one.

“It’s surreal, because soon I’ll be graduating from the place I’ve been wanting to go since I was in eighth grade,” Eidt said. “I got so anxious the other day I got on the calendar online and counted down the exact days until I graduate.

“It will definitely be a bittersweet moment.”

Eidt is the daughter of Missi Johnson and the stepdaughter of Butch Johnson.